Syria sack Bernd Stange after Jordan defeat

Stange has been given his marching orders before the group stage is even over. (Reuters)
Updated 11 January 2019
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Syria sack Bernd Stange after Jordan defeat

  • Syria lost 2-0 to Jordan on Thursday having drawn with Palestine in their Group B opener.
  • German is the second coach to be axed at the Asian Cup before the end of the group stage.

LONDON: Bernd Stange has paid the price for Syria’s awful start to the Asian Cup with his job as the German was axed before the end of the group stage.
The Syrians went into the tournament strongly fancied to do well. They only narrowly missed out on qualification for last year’s World Cup — losing in the continental playoff to Australia — and had high hopes of success in the UAE.
But a drab and very underwhelming 0-0 against Palestine in their Group B opener and a shock 2-0 defeat at the hands of Jordan convinced the Syrian Football Association they had to take action before the last group clash against the Socceroos.
The Syrian FA issued a statement hours after the loss to their neighbors, stating Stange has been replaced by former coach Ayman Hakeem for the remainder of the tournament. However, in a later update, former head coach Fajr Ibrahim was announced as the replacement.
Hakeem will be tasked with picking up a win that could reignite the country’s AFC Asian Cup campaign.
“Coaches are always responsible for the performance of the team,” said Stange just hours before he was fired.
“We are one team and we win and we lose together.”
“There is not one person or a player who had a bad day. We win and we lose together and we have to lift up our team.
“We are disappointed extremely because we wanted to do something in this tournament, we wanted to go for the first time in history to the next round, Syria never achieved that and we need results and today was a disappointment.
“I will never ever blame one player or a group of players for something like this. Of course, the coach is responsible.”
The German is the second coach to be issued with his marching orders at the Asian Cup following Thailand’s decision to sack Milovan Rajevac following their 4-1 defeat to India.


FIVE THINGS WE LEARNED: More Lionel Messi magic, Juve miss Cristiano Ronaldo and Ajax title wait set to continue

Updated 18 min 43 sec ago
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FIVE THINGS WE LEARNED: More Lionel Messi magic, Juve miss Cristiano Ronaldo and Ajax title wait set to continue

LONDON: Zinedine Zidane marked his return to the Real Madrid dugout with a victory although Lionel Messi again stole the show in Spain with a magnificent hat-trick as Barcelona continued their march toward the La Liga title. Here we look at what we learned from the weekend’s key action across the continent:

ZIZOU BACK AND MAGIC MESSI

Zinedine Zidane may have made a winning start to his second spell as coach of Real Madrid but Barcelona look to have the La Liga title already sewn up. Barca blew away Real Betis 4-1 on Sunday as Lionel Messi scored his fourth hat-trick of the season and 51st of his career, prompting even the Betis fans to stand and applaud. The Catalans now have a 10-point lead over Atletico Madrid, who were beaten 2-0 by Athletic Bilbao on Saturday, four days after their Champions League heartache at the hands of Juventus.Real’s hopes of catching Barcelona were already all but over but Zidane has at least lifted the gloom. He recalled a handful of old favorites against Celta Vigo on Saturday, including Isco, who scored the opener, before Gareth Bale — who was not always appreciated by Zidane in the coach’s first spell — added another in a 2-0 victory.

Zidane enjoyed a winning start to his second reign as Real Madrid boss. (AFP)

SPALLETTI SAFE?

Under-fire Inter Milan coach Luciano Spalletti hit back at his critics with a dramatic 3-2 Milan derby win which lifted his side to third in Serie A. For Spalletti it was a third derby win in four since taking over in mid-2017, and just days after crashing out of the Europa League, as Inter extended their unbeaten run in the derby to six games, their longest run since 1999. “I read that this was to be my last derby, the ‘Last Supper’,” said the former Roma and Zenit Saint Petersburg coach. “And instead I know that there’s another supper for me,” he added, after being praised by Chinese-owned Inter’s president Steven Zhang. “We’re now already looking to the future, to the next match and next month,” said Zhang. “This derby sends an important message.” Juventus, without Cristiano Ronaldo, fell to their first Serie A defeat of the season in a 2-0 reverse to Genoa but still have a 15-point lead.

Inter extended their unbeaten run in the Milan derby to six games, their longest run since 1999​. (AFP) 

BAYERN’S YOUNG GUN

Canadian teenager Alphonso Davies became the youngest Bayern Munich goalscorer since Roque Santa Cruz in 1999, a year before the former was even born, in Sunday’s 6-0 demolition of Mainz. Bayern are level on points with Borussia Dortmund as they bid for an eighth successive Bundesliga title, but the meek nature of their Champions League exit against Liverpool posed questions about the future of a number of aging stars. With a clear-out on the horizon in Bavaria, the 18-year-old Davies, acquired last July in a $13 million move from MLS side Vancouver Whitecaps, could soon be given the opportunity to stake his claim as a core component in a new Bayern generation.

Alphonso Davies is making a name for himself at the Allianz Arena. (AFP)

LIGHT AT END OF ROAD FOR MONACO

With their Ligue 1 status under threat, Monaco’s decision to cut short a failing experiment with Thierry Henry in January and replace him with predecessor Leonardo Jardim has paid off handsomely. Friday’s 1-0 win at second-place Lille, enjoying their best points return at this stage of the campaign since 1948, extended Monaco’s unbeaten run since his return to seven games in Ligue 1. They remain just two places above the relegation play-off spot but are eight points clear of Guingamp and recent form suggests they will surely avoid the drop.

Under Jardim Monaco are making a very impressive tilt at avoiding relegation. (AFP) 

TITLE WAIT FOR AJAX LOOKS SET TO CONTINUE

Champions League quarter-finalists Ajax slumped to a 1-0 defeat away to AZ Alkmaar in the Dutch Eredivisie to drop five points behind leaders PSV Eindhoven. PSV won 1-0 at VVV Venlo over the weekend courtesy of a late strike by Mexico international Hirving Lozano. Ajax, who won the last of their record 33 Dutch championships in 2014, must now win their clash with PSV in Amsterdam on March 31 if they are to remain in the title race.

Are Ajax and Daley Blind to go anohter year without winning the Dutch title? (AFP)